South African Democratic Teachers’ Union general secretary Mugwena Maluleke. Picture: SUNDAY WORLD
South African Democratic Teachers’ Union general secretary Mugwena Maluleke. Picture: SUNDAY WORLD

Mugwena Maluleke, in “Unhealthy Obsession” (On My Mind, January 31-February 6), defends the teachers’ union of which he is secretary-general, using a meaningless argument that describes critics of the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) as obsessed individuals pained by the union’s existence. How wrong he is; concerned citizens attribute the failure of the system to the poor quality of teachers who form the bulk of his union’s members.

The future of any country rests with educated minds, yet Sadtu has proved to be the most backward of our unions, more interested in politics than contributing ideas on progressive learning.

That early learners fail to understand the content of a story’s message or do not grasp basic arithmetic is due mainly to shoddy teaching.

Sadtu has failed dismally to provide a constructive lead in improving the quality of education, and fails to criticise members who lack the skills to develop the potential of many pupils. Many of the union’s members are absent from class, while some have been accused of impregnating young girls — yet Maluleke protects his members, arguing the bill of rights entitles all to equality, dignity and fair labour practice.

He seems pleased that many anxious parents failed in their quest to have education declared an essential service; he shows poor cognitive skills in recognising the real issues; and he alludes to racism to distract from the lack of leadership in the union, which limits any worthwhile dialogue about improving the schooling system or giving hope and vision to so many deserving learners.

Ted O’Connor
Albertskroon